081. How to Get Booked to Speak at Colleges

podcast episodes

Start your public speaking career or take it to the next level with The Speaker Lab's Grant Baldwin!

Have you ever wanted to speak to college students or collegiate staff? If you have but weren’t sure where to start this is the show for you!

Recently a listener named Eric wrote in wanting to know how to get booked for speaking gigs at colleges. To answer his question, we’ll talk about how to get started speaking at colleges, and where there are the most opportunities in this market.

On episode 81 of The Speaker Lab, I share my personal experiences and insights gleaned from speaking on the collegiate circuit. I’ll also share the 9 potential markets that exist within almost any university. You’ll hear about all of that and much more on the 81st edition of The Speaker Lab!


  • The 3 foundational questions to ask and answer before speaking in any market.
  • What questions do you need to answer to define your marketing to colleges?
  • What are the 9 potential markets you could speak to on most campuses?
  • What are the APCA and NACA, and why should you know?
  • What is block booking and how does it work?
  • Why student orientation and staff training are good opportunities to be hired.
  • How should you reach out to potential decision-makers in the college market?
  • And so much more!

Tweetable: If you want to speak at colleges, there are plenty of opportunities. 


  • AxelMeierhoefer

    Hi Grant
    I went to the website you mentioned but it does not seem to be active. Could you check the URL and maybe post an updated one?

    • Not sure what was going on but everything seems to be working now 🙂

      • AxelMeierhoefer

        Yes, I tried the link at the end of the podcast and that worked. When I typed it in directly it din’t. Anyway, I got there

  • Kisha

    Do colleges pay deposits? I have done other speaking engagements were 50% is the norm for deposit to secure the date along with a signed agreement. I am wondering if you found that colleges are receptive to that? I did not hear it mentioned in the podcast specifically applying to college speaking engagements. Thanks!

    • Most colleges do pay deposits, but there are certainly some that may not. If they say they can’t/don’t, it’s generally not worth fighting over. Typically it’s a school policy and your contact has no say in the matter.

      • Kisha

        I had a reply posted earlier, not sure what happened to it. So I will ask again, are the colleges open to online payments. I notice many prefer to issue paper checks (public state colleges)? I would rather electronically invoice them so they can pay online as it is so much easier. Does it help to offer a small discount to encourage payment this way?

        • I wouldn’t recommend online payment. For you to accept it, it would eat into your fee. Let’s say you have a $4k fee and it costs your 5% to accept that payment online, that’s $200 you just lost. Plus, most organizations (and colleges) are old school and will still pay everything by check. Most of them just don’t have a company/school credit card that is readily available to use, especially for big purchases.

          • Kisha

            Thanks Grant! 🙂

          • Kisha

            Thanks Grant! With that I am reaching out to the departments you mentioned in the podcast (not all but at least half) at the specific colleges I am focused on. Have a great evening.

  • Isadore B.

    Who is the best person to reach out to at a college? What is the actual job titles of those people?

    • There are a variety of different departments at colleges that hire speakers (orientation, athletics, student activities, Greek life, financial aid, etc), so there’s not one single person that hires. Step one is to get clear on what problem you’re solving for students and then figure out the potential best department on campus that would hire a speaker to talk about that.

      As for the specific person within a department, I’d generally start with the director type role. If it’s not them, then they will generally refer you to who you would need to talk with.

  • Isadore B.

    Do you get college gigs year round or is it very seasonal?

    • Depends on the department you speak to 🙂

      When I was doing a lot of orientation events, that really only happens in Aug/Sept and a little in Jan. Whereas something like student activities may happen year round.

      Of course you also have the school calendar which means nothing really during the summer or during fall/winter/spring breaks.

  • Isadore B.

    Whats a good range to give colleges that won’t give them sticker shock? Is a range of 3,500-5,000 per gig too high?

    • There are several variables when it comes to pricing yourself. 3,500-5k is a good range for college gigs. The big variables would be…
      1. Your skill level – if you’re brand new and have never been paid before, this range may be high
      2. Your marketing materials – your website and video need to look sharp and professional. People judge books by their cover 🙂

      • Isadore B.

        Thank you

      • Isadore B.

        Is there a range I should start in since I haven’t been paid before?

        • I’d probably do $1k-$2500 and focus on smaller schools to get some reps in

          • Isadore B.

            Smaller as in community colleges? Can you tell me more specifically what you mean by Smaller?

          • Smaller as in size. I’ve spoke at universities with 30k students and some with 2k students. I’d focus on the smaller schools to start with.

  • Isadore B.

    Any tips on how to shine at an APCA showcase? Is it worth all the money?

    Side note- I just want to say I thank you for answering my questions.

    • They’re worth doing if you’re a good speaker and you’re already getting booked at colleges. I wouldn’t start there if you’re just getting started.

  • Isadore B.

    Who handles hiring at the high schools?

    • It can vary depending on the school but usually the principal or an assistant/vice principal

      • Isadore B.

        thanks so much.

        • Isadore B.

          How do you know which schools to target as all do not have a budget?

          • Every school is different so outside looking in, there’s no perfect way to know.

          • Elizabeth Peace

            I usually started with the counselors if you aren’t getting very far otherwise.

  • cocoafly

    Hi Grant,
    Is it okay to reach out to more than one department on a college campus when trying to book speaking opportunities?

    • Absolutely, because there are often multiple departments/groups on campus that book speakers

      • cocoafly

        Thank you.

  • Tony

    Do you recommend messaging each college individually or sending out mass mail?

    • Which is more appealing to you as a recipient?

      • Tony

        True but I am thinking of what is more efficient time-wise. I can only email so many people at a time. Whats the quickest way to contact people?

        • Definitely quicker to send one mass email to a bunch of people but not nearly as effective

          • Tony

            Whats more effective?

          • Sending them out individually and personalizing them

          • Tony

            How many emails do you typically have to send in order to get a booking? Im trying to figure out the fastest method?